Yep, me too!
In fact, I’d dare to bet that even the most prolific writers among us have dealt with mental blocks at one point or the other. We all get to a point sometimes — especially if we’ve been expending a lot of creative energy — where we’re just completely tapped out. Maybe you’ve cranked out a lot of content lately, or you just finished working on a big project or a new course. Or maybe you’re new to blogging and just have no idea where to start.
Whatever the reason, that tapped-out feeling of not being able to come up with any ideas is no fun. It can be really frustrating, especially when I’m putting pressure on myself to get something done, and I know that there are times where I get really down on myself about this lack of ability to create. So if you struggle to find ideas right now, know that you’re not alone!
But what’s the solution? What exactly do you do to get those creative juices flowing when you find yourself staring at a blank screen? How do you come up with great ideas to write about when all your ideas have gone missing?
Get Everything Else Out of Your Head
If you’re struggling to pull ideas out of your head, it’s helpful to pull everything ELSE out of your head. I call this little trick “The Brain Dump”.
Grab a pen and paper, sit down with a nice cup of tea, and just start writing. Write down everything that’s in your head — things you’re stressed about, to-do items, errands you have to run, ideas that pop in. Literally anything that’s bouncing around in your head, get it down on paper.
How does that help you find topics to write about? Well, there’s a few ways.
First off, writing everything down gets all your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper. If your head is crowded with too many thoughts, there’s no space for ideas to grow and flourish. But when you get them out of your head, you make space for creativity.
Writing everything down also helps you identify all the amazing ideas that are already in your head. When you can look at all your thoughts on a piece of paper, you might see something and think, “Hmm… that would be an amazing blog post!”
Lean on Your Community
Another great way to find writing ideas that your audience will be super excited about is to go straight to the source — your community, of course!
Think of where your community hangs out online, then go there and see what they’re talking about, what they’re interested in, and what kinds of questions they’re asking. You can check Quora, larger websites in your industry… really anywhere you know your audience is engaging.
That includes your own blog! Read through your blog comments: is there a question that comes up over and over again? If so, write about it! Was your audience particularly interested in one of your blog posts? Then expand on it!
By going straight to your community for ideas, you’re guaranteed to get ideas that your community will be interested in.
If you have a general idea of what you want to write about, but aren’t sure how to turn that general topic into more specific ideas, then try mind mapping! Mind mapping is a great tool to narrow down your focus and come up with specific ideas.
To create your mind map, write down the general topic in the middle of a sheet of paper. Then draw a few spokes going out of that general idea. On those spokes, write down a topic related to the general topic. Then draw a few spokes out of each of THOSE topics and write down more related topics, and so on and so forth.
Not only is mind mapping great for narrowing your focus, it can also help you come up with new ideas to write about. Plus, it’s great for people who are visual learners!
I have a little confession to make: reading magazines is my guilty pleasure. I love them! I find it so relaxing to flip through my favorite magazines.
But I’ve discovered that, in addition to being my guilty pleasure, reading magazines is a great way to find things to write about!
So, if you’re like me and love to read magazines, you can start to use it as a way to generate content ideas. Pick up a few magazines in your niche (for me, magazines like Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, or Woman’s Day) and start flipping through them. You don’t have to read the entire thing from cover to cover, but notice what they’re writing about. What topics are they covering? What are the article titles?
If they cover it in a magazine, that means readers in your niche are interested in it. Jot down the article titles that speak to you and use those as a springboard for choosing your own ideas to write about.
Pay Attention to Current Events
Another great way to generate content ideas is to look at what’s going on in current events and brainstorm how you can incorporate that into your writing.
Pulling ideas from the news, covering an event, or even talking about what’s going on in politics (which is clearly a hot button issue right now) can produce great content. Just be careful not to veer into topics that are too controversial. You always want to be honest in your writing, but you never want to be purposefully antagonistic!
You can also develop content ideas based on the time of year. Seasonal content always does really well! Have a recipe blog? Write a post on “Best Soup Recipes to Warm You Up on a Cold Day” and post it in December. Or, in summer, write something like “10 Quick and Easy Grill Recipes for Your 4th-of-July BBQ”. By tying your content into the season, you immediately add a sense of urgency and relevancy to your writing. Plus, readers love it!
Fill Your Own Bucket
If you have trouble coming up with content ideas, it might mean that you’re not taking enough time to take care of yourself. I know I’ve struggled with this! It can be hard to take care of yourself when you feel like you’ve got a million things to do. But you deserve it! And the thing is, when you take that time to practice self-care, rest, and rejuvenate, you actually become more productive and get more done.
If you’re feeling burnt out and creatively stuck, take some time for yourself. Read something you enjoy, listen to podcasts, or just sit quietly and think. Do yoga, go for a walk outside, have coffee with a friend. Whatever activity feels restful and rejuvenating for you, schedule it into your calendar. Then watch the ideas flow.
So here’s what it comes down to. I wish I could tell you there’s a magic formula that would guarantee a flow of amazing content ideas 24/7. But I haven’t found it yet (if you have, please let me in on your secret!). It takes good, old-fashioned, hard work.
But at the end of the day, there’s really only two choices: start writing or don’t. It’s that simple. Sometimes, even when you don’t feel like you have a great idea to write about, you just have to sit down and start writing. That’s what blogging is all about. And if you can’t do that? Then you might want to consider a different career.
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but that’s the truth. I get how difficult and scary it can be. That fear is what really keeps us from choosing topics to write about. Fear stands in the way.
What do I mean by that? Well, choosing a topic means that you have to write. You have to write your post, publish it, and put it out there for the world to see. And that’s scary! Because putting yourself out there makes you vulnerable. You could fail. That potential for failure brings up a lot of fears: the fear of being rejected, the fear of being judged, the fear of people seeing that you’re not perfect.
But guess what? None of us are perfect! Our imperfections make us great.
If fear is holding you back from choosing topics, I have one piece of advice for you: do it scared. The more you write, the less fear you’ll have. And the less fear you have, the easier it will get. So, even when you’re afraid and worried you might fail, just start writing. Just keep moving forward, keep writing, and keep pushing.
If you’re feeling stumped, these strategies should help you get those creative juices flowing and come up with brilliant ideas to write about in no time. Do you have any go-to strategies or techniques that help you find inspiration when you need it? If so, I’d love to hear them! Leave your favorites in the comments below.